(July 31, 2020) Records were set for both participation and payout for the seventh annual Huk Big Fish Classic tournament, held last weekend.
“It was great. Everyone had a great time,” said Brian Roberts, co-director of the Big Fish Classic. “The weather was great, the seas were calm Saturday night [for those who fished overnight]. Everything ran totally smooth. We were excited to pull off an event during covid.”
A record 105 boats were entered into this year’s tournament and $891,560 was distributed among the winners.
“People want to do something fun. They want to get out and do outdoor activities,” Roberts said.
Teams had the option to choose between two 32-hour slots: 7 a.m. Friday, July, 24 to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 25, or 7 a.m. Saturday, July 25 to 3 p.m. Sunday, July 26.
Nearly all of the crews fished overnight, Roberts said.
The Seacurity crew brought the largest fish to the Talbot Street Pier, located between The Angler restaurant and M.R. Ducks in downtown Ocean City.
Kramer Whitelaw’s 384-pound blue marlin earned him and his teammates $285,922.50. The group also finished in second place in the heaviest stringer division.
The second-largest catch of the tournament was Eddie Kehl’s 255-pound swordfish, landed aboard Roll Grove. The team was presented $91,385.
The third-heaviest fish was Matt Facchina’s 243.5-pound sword, reeled in aboard Trip Wire. The crew took home $27,352.50.
The MJ’s crew recorded the largest stringer weight. They brought 44.5-, 49-, and 57-pound yellowfin tuna and a 243-pound bigeye to the scale for a total weight of 393.5 pounds.
The group was awarded $61,425.
The Just One More crew won $103,050 for its stringer weight of 304.5 pounds, because of participation in added entry-level calcuttas. They brought 53-, 54, and 58.5-pound yellowfin and a 139-pound bigeye to the scale.
The Whiskey Kilo team received $79,020 for its 257-pound stringer. The team weighed 62.5-, 63-, 64.5- and 67-pound yellowfin.
The Chaser crew was presented $119,385 for an 80.5-pound white marlin and 52-pound wahoo, caught by Shane Surrency and Chase Burbage, respectively.
The Redemption team hooked the largest dolphin of the tournament – a 28-pounder. It was worth $24,300. The group also weighed a 19.5-pound dolphin and 78-pound swordfish.
Anglers who reeled in the fish were Ryan Jordan, Dave Lovechio and David Gass.
No Limit anglers Vito DiFrancesco and Hunter Unruh caught a 42-pound yellowfin and 91.5-pound swordfish. The team earned $26,775.
The Sea Wolf team came in first place in the billfish release division. The group release one blue marlin, one spearfish and 11 white marlin, for a total of 1,350 points. They won $21,645.
The Kilo Charlie crew scored 1,250 points for releasing one blue marlin and 11 whites.
In addition, the group brought 49- and 57.5-pound yellowfin tuna and a 77.5-pound white marlin to the scale, caught by Chris Kinsley, Mitch Seitz and Scott Dolmetsch.
The crew was awarded $21,285.
The J&T crew released eight white marlin, good for 800 points. David Johnson also weighed a 69.5-pound white marlin. The group received $3,330.
The full payout list is available on the tournament’s website, www.bigfishclassic.com.
More than 300 pounds of meat from fish caught during the first night was donated to Diakonia, which provides emergency housing, food services, counseling and assistance for its guests.
Approximately 200 pounds went to Ocean City Baptist Church from the second night’s catches.
The tournament will again benefit the Raymond A. Wood Foundation, which provides quality of life support for childhood brain tumor survivors and their families, as well other charities and organizations.
Roberts said he is looking forward the next year’s event and organizers have already been discussing some adjustments, including the qualifying weight of white marlin.
The current minimum for white marlin is 67 inches and 60 pounds, and Roberts said that will be increased a bit to help conserve the species.